Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Evanston finds solution to rat infestation problem

To combat a long-standing rat infestation, city officials installed a new program last May to lessen local rodent concerns.

Partnering with Anderson Pest Solutions, the city now provides pesticide services to residents. Carl Caneva, director of the Health and Human Services Department, said Evanston has dealt with a significant amount of rat infestations in the past few years, especially in its downtown area.

“I’ve been here since 2005, and we’ve had at least 50 to 100 complaints a year,” Caneva said. “We’re averaging a little over 150 now.”

In the winter time, though, city complaints about rat infestation drop drastically due to residents’ reduced exposure to rats’ habitats, said Phil King, an environmental health sanitarian in Evanston.

“People’s perception of infestation has changed in (the winter) because they don’t get the chance to run into rats as much,” said King. “People aren’t in the allies; they’re bundled up and want to get inside. But in the summer time, people are having picnics in their backyards, which is connected to the ally. You get more opportunities to run into the rats.”But Evanston is doing everything it can to keep its rodent problems to a minimum, Caneva said.

“When we get these calls, Anderson will go out and service the residents’ property,” Caneva said. “It’s something that’s unique to Evanston that not a lot of other places are doing.”

Evanston’s worst infestations occur near Howard Street, and many factors contribute to the rat infestation, said Jeff Murphy, assistant director of Property Standards and Housing Rehabilitation. Natural habitats tend to build up infestations, like construction sites, demolished buildings, train tracks and garbage dumps, Murphy said.

“If there’s a food source, holes in garbage cans, overflowing garbage and a source of water, then the rat problem can get worse,” Murphy said. “We want to control the food source and the water problem as much as possible.”

Rats in the city pose a problem to the area for a number of reasons. Rats damage property by burrowing under homes and are also a health hazard because they can transmit diseases, Caneva said.

Neighboring cities experience a comparable number of rat complaints to Evanston, Caneva said.

“We’re trying to control the population as much as we can so we limit the impact they have,” he said.

Murphy said residents need to be especially careful in their homes because rodents are small and can easily infiltrate a residency.

“A rat can get in an opening the size of a quarter, and mouse the size of a dime,” he said. “So you want to make sure that for the exterior of the buildings, all of the openings are closed.”

Communicaton junior Abraham Benson-Goldberg said Evanston’s rat problem has affected him.

“When I’m walking around off campus, where they’re trying to fix the pipes and lay new ones because rats are crawling through, it’s been a hassle,” Benson-Golderg said. “It takes up a lot of space and time and makes travel difficult.”

Evanston residents can be proactive in preventing future rat infestations in their homes and businesses, Caneva said. The most effective way to ward off an infestation is to minimize waste, especially food. Caneva advised all residents to keep dog food and pet bowls inside and covered.

Another way to prevent an infestation is to keep piles of firewood and bricks 12 inches above the ground and avoid the overload of garbage cans.

Caneva said he is excited for the program because it offers a more convenient and eco-friendly alternative to rat pesticides.

“Not only are we trying to control the population of rats, but we’re also controlling the amount of pesticide that’s out there,” Caneva said. “Both of those are important for the public.”[email protected]

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Evanston finds solution to rat infestation problem